Class 3/NFA/Machine Gun question and answers
I thought Class 3 firearms/machine guns were illegal? In short, NO. Through the years, several laws restricting ownership took effect, but not “Banned” as it would be a clear infraction of the 2nd amendment. Machine guns were free to buy and sell up until 1934 when the NFA Act of 1934 took effect. At this point they were TAXED, not “Banned”. This began the $200 federal machine gun transfer tax that still exists today. From this point there were two other major law changes, the 1968 gun control act, and the May of 1986 machine gun "ban" severely restricting sale and possession, but not actually "banned" for properly registered firearms.
So I can own any machine gun I want? In short, NO. As the laws have also changed through the years, the type of gun, date of manufacture, and HOW it’s registered make a big difference. The registration status determines whether the gun can be owned by an individual, or only by law enforcement/government agency. Lawful ownership in any case requires an approved “Form 4” to be lawfully owned/registered.
Can I convert my rifle or pistol into a machine gun? Absolutely not!!!! Unless you are a machine gun manufacturer with a Federal Firearms License (FFL), you cannot convert one!!! This is a felony with a 20 year prison sentence and $250,000 fine. Unless you are looking for a new 350 lb boyfriend named “Bubba”, you do not want to even be in possession of an unregistered machine gun, regardless of how it was made and found its way into your hands.
OK, I live in Michigan, so what can I own? Before December 27th of 2005, Michigan residents could only own “C&R” or curio and relic registered Class 3 machine guns and other items. Attorney General opinion #7183 passed on December 27th of 2005 effectively opened the state up to TRANSFERABLE machine guns (C&R guns still OK too). A TRANSFERABLE machine gun is one that was manufactured and registered before the “ban” of May 19th 1986. On this date, any new gun manufactured can only be made and possessed by Law Enforcement or Government (a very highly restricted registration). This is why you can’t convert your rifle into a machine gun. Federal rules have not changed, but Michigan’s laws have changed. The Feds won’t supercede State law, this is why we had to wait for Michigan to change its laws (or actually, opinion of the law). Opinion #7183 effectively defined your approved Form 4 with a $200 federal tax stamp IS your license to own.
Does this include Suppressors/Silencer’s and short barreled rifles/shotguns too if I pay my $200 tax? The AG opinion #7183 only mentioned machine guns, but if you look at Michigan Common Law (MCL), machine guns and suppressors(silencers) are in the same subsection of the MCL. Thus, suppressors were not excluded in opinion #7183, but our Attorney General helped clear this up with a ‘clarification” letter on suppressors. AG opinion #7260 cleared up this definition on September 2nd 2011 and now made LEGAL the sale, transfer, and possession of suppressors/silencers. SBS’s and SBR’s have just been signed into law by our governor under SB 610, effective March 27th 2014. Currently silencers/suppressors are now LEGAL for hunting in the state of Michigan as long as you lawfully possess the silencer/suppressor.
What’s this Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) sign off? Glad you asked. Historically your form 4 paperwork also required a “signoff” by the local LE department before the ATF approves of your form 4. This is not so much “permission” by your Chief or Sheriff, as it is making sure your local LE doesn’t show cause to believe you SHOULD NOT own one. THE RULES HAVE NOW CHANGED AS OF JULY 13TH, 2016 WITH THE NEW ATF RULES 41P NOW IN EFFECT. You no longer need a sign off, but simply to notify your CLEO before submission of the form 4 paperwork. We have paperwork to provide such, we'll walk you through any details as our valued customer.
Update on "Trusts", 41P, and other legal entities: As mentioned prior, new rules have been applied due to 41F effective July 13th, 2016. In a nutshell an individual has less to do, but those with a trust have more work to do. 41F is a new set of rules that modify the paperwork process and transfer of any class 3 item. The following changes are:
Individual: You are no longer required to get a CLEO signoff, only a notification prior to form 4 submission. You still need photos and fingerprint cards, and the form 4 is now updated and all prior versions obsolete.
Trusts and other legal entities: You also still do not need a CLEO signoff, only CLEO notification by each Responsible Person (RP). Note each RP must submit a notification to his/her CLEO, so if you have RP's in two different counties, then each CLEO in each county must be notified by the RP. FINGERPRINTS AND PHOTO'S NOW ALSO REQUIRED for each RP. All these new requirements are contained on the Responsible Person form that will be issued for each responsible person. What is a responsible person? Anyone who can possess, sell, transfer, or otherwise take control of the firearm/class 3 item. It DOES NOT Include beneficiaries or anyone you choose to not to be a responsible person.
Alright I’m sold, what’s the first step? This is where we come in. You can buy an in stock gun and begin transfer paperwork immediately (still takes 6 months before you get approved). This is the hardest part because machine gun paperwork takes a while. This is not like buying a pistol or rifle, the background checks for machine guns or NFA transfers take at least 2 months (now currently 6 months), so be patient. We can also broker an out of state gun, or simply transfer if you have a collection in another state. Just tell us what you want and we can get it for you. We've been an NFA dealer for nearly 20 years and remain Michigan's most experienced "brick and mortar" machine gun/Class 3 dealer.
How much is this going to cost? Plan on spending a minimum of $4000 for a machine gun, less than $1000 for a suppressor. It really depends on what you want. Since no more can be manufactured (the 1986 ban), prices (and values) have gone nothing but up and up an up. Diminishing supply and increasing demand. If you think it sounds like too much to spend money on, I can show you how your machine gun investments will outperform your stock portfolio. Check with Forbes, Fortune 500 and other investment companies, machine guns have commonly vacillated between #1 to #3 for investment return. The longer you wait, the more it goes up in value, this is what investment companies do with us, buy and sell collections.
OK, I can own it, but I heard it was illegal to shoot a machine gun? In short, NO. As long as you are not shooting AT someone or in an unsafe direction, there is no difference in shooting a machine gun versus a rifle. If you are going to a private range, you may need their permission since it is private property and they may have separate range rules. Some ranges have their own policies, at Sheridan Arms, we now have machine gun friendly ranges. It is also a good idea to call your local PD before you shoot, it really helps the barrage of phone calls they are likely to get. Just let them know you lawfully own an MG and you will be doing some shooting. They may still send a squad car, but they’ll know your are legit! Chances are you will make them smile after a long day on the beat.
My heavens, isn’t this going to mean Dodge City and the OK Corral all over again? The same rationale was used by anti-gunners for our CPL or CCW holders. Notice their silence after 4 years of CPL/CCW law took effect and now the CCW/CPL holders number over 100,000 in the state. Again, when forced to look at fact and not fantasy, you’ll find machine gun owning citizens are some of the most responsible law abiding citizens around. ~40 other states have been shooting machine guns for decades upon decades upon decades, just no one knows about it primarily due to the lack of positive portrayal by the media. Come to one of our major machine gun festivals, I GUARANTEE a safe fun time. Shooting sports are extremely prevalent in Michigan, machine gun shooting sports are no less fun.
What type of machine gun activities can we do? Ahhhh, our specialty. We have year round shoots in and out of state. April we are at Knob Creek Kentucky, May is Thunder in the Hills, June is Southern Ohio Machine Gun Shoot, and July is Bulletfest, etc. Local shoots and other national shoots, check with our gunshop. We also will put on a private shoot for those interested. WE have machine guns for rent at our gunshop most days, keep in mind we have an instructor present 100% of the time during machine gun rentals for safety. Best to schedule in advance so we are appropriately staffed which will reduce your wait time to rent.
Can I bring my machine gun and shoot it any time? Check with us first, we control our ranges with instructors and range safety officers for safety. Last thing we want is an accident and these types of firearms require special attention. We are now also providing machine gun classes in order to promote safe handling/instruction for all our customers.